Sweet Pastries, Winter

Soft German Gingerbread Cookies

These German gingerbread cookies are unbelievable soft, chewy, and perfectly sweet with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. These Lebkuchen are easy to make and the perfect snack for the holiday season or a lovely DIY gift idea.

And in case you need some more DIY Christmas gift ideas, check out my homemade seasoned salt mixtures.

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A stack of gingerbread cookies.

Nuremberg Gingerbread Cookies

Today I want to show you how to easily make the most famous German gingerbread cookies yourself. Those Eliselebkuchen, that’s how we call them, are by far the most popular and highest quality Lebkuchen. The reason therefore is their very little amount of flour. This ensures that they become incomparably moist and soft.

These kind of gingerbread cookies originated in Nuremberg. A city in the south of Germany which is famous for its huge Christmas fair where you can get these cookies on every second corner. 

A genuine Nuremberg gingerbread cookie must meet high quality standards like a certain percentage of nuts. At the same time, it must consist of no more than 10% flour. This, as already mentions, is the reason for its incredibly soft texture.

And a real premium Elisenlebkuchen do not contain any flour at all. So, they’re basically gluten-free. On top that, all those wintery spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon, or nutmeg provide the cookies its characteristic note.

About this Recipe

If there’s one Christmas cookie I couldn’t live without, it’s these delicious, gourmet gingerbread cookies. The only drawback to them, from my point of view, is the candied orange and lemon peel.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but for some reason I don’t like them. So, I thought I’d try to modify the classic Elisenlebkuchen recipe so that it tastes like the original but without the candied orange and lemon bits. 

And the perfect substitutes are dried dates and apricots. Honestly, if you’ve tried these gingerbreads, you’ll probably also wonder why the Nuremberg bakers didn’t come up with this idea themselves, as well as the two fruits fit in here. 

Also, I didn’t want to make the recipe more complicated than necessary, so instead of using a variety of different spices, I just use a gingerbread spice mix. You can buy those everywhere during Christmas time. And if not, they are also always on sale online or you can always make your own one.

A stack of five German gingerbread cookies coated with chocolate.

Ingredients 

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Medjool dates and dried apricots
  • Medium-sized eggs
  • Brown sugar for sweetness and the hint of caramel
  • Honey for even more sweetness
  • Ground almonds and ground hazelnuts
  • A Gingerbread spice as well as a pinch of salt and some extra cinnamon
  • The zest of one orange and one lemon
  • Some gingerbread wafers with 70 mm diameter
  • For Decoration: Dark chocolate or powdered sugar

As you can see, you don’t need any flour for this Elisenlebkuchen recipe. So in this point we strictly follow the quality characteristics of the original recipe. However, this also has the advantage that the gingerbread cookies will turn out gluten-free.

You can find the exact quantities in the recipe card at the end of the post. They will make approximately 13 gingerbread cookies. 

Ingredients for soft gingerbread cookies.
What’s missing in this ingredient shot are the orange and lemon. Don’t forget to buy them.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you want to make your gingerbread a little healthier and sugar-free, you have a few options. Either replace the brown sugar one-for-one with a calorie-free brown sugar of choice. 

Alternatively, you can use a mixture of 60 grams of erythritol or xylitol and 20 grams of brown sugar or coconut blossom sugar.

If you don’t tolerate or don’t have either almonds or hazelnuts on hand, you can substitute them for the other or ground walnuts.

How to Make this Recipe

For the preparation you need either a food processor with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer with two beaters.

You’ll also need a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and either two tablespoons or a large ice cream scoop (with a 6cm scoop diameter) for dividing the dough into portions.

We start the recipe with the dates and apricots. First, we have to cut them into small cubes. To do this, first pit the dates, then quarter them lengthwise and cut them into pieces as small as possible, so that they are almost as small as the classic candied orange and lemon peel. Then do the same with the apricots.

Finely chopped dates and apricots on a wooden board.

Next, beat the eggs and place them in a mixing bowl with the sugar and honey. Beat this mixture for four to five minutes until frothy.

Then, using a fine grater, grate the zest from your orange and lemon and add them directly into the creamy, frothy egg mixture. Next, you can add the ground nuts and spices and gently fold them all in with a spatula. Finally, gently fold in the chopped dates and apricots.

Now lay out the wafers on your baking sheet and spread the dough evenly on each wafer (about 60 grams of dough per gingerbread) either with your ice cream scoop or two spoons. 

Now you just have to carefully flatten the dough with your fingers. To do this, it’s best to have a bowl of cold water ready so you can moisten your fingers again and again so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.

And now you can put the gingerbread in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes at 150°C or 300°F.

Decorate with Chocolate or Icing

Once the cookies are baked, you can finish them with either chocolate or an icing. 

To cover the Lebkuchen with chocolate, you should first allow the cookies to cool completely. Then chop up some dark chocolate and melt 2/3 of it over a water bath or in your microwave.

As soon as it is melted, you can take it off the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate and let it melt. Then spread it evenly on top of your cookies with a silicon brush or something alike. 

If you want to put some icing on top of your cookie, it’s best to do this before the cookies are cooled completely. Therefore, just mix some powdered sugar with a little lemon juice and water until you have a very viscous sugar paste. Then spread it evenly over the cookies.

German gingerbread cookies on a cooling rack and covered with dark chocolate.

Here’s How to Save these Cookies

Since the gingerbread cookies are already quite high in calories, I always eat only a quarter or a half of a gingerbread cookie per day. So, I save them for a correspondingly long time. Of course, you can eat more of them a day, especially during the holiday season. But these soft, juicy gingerbreads keep best and longest in the refrigerator.

Alternatively, you can store them in a dark cookie jar in a relatively cool and dark place so that the chocolate doesn’t start to melt.

Your Common Questions Answered

In case there are any questions left, I hope these FAQ will help you. If not, feel free to drop your question in the comments below.

Are these Gingerbread cookies gluten-free?

Yes, they are. Oftentimes gingerbread cookies contain flour, but the best German gingerbread cookies are made without flour.

How to bake Gingerbread cookies?

It’s best to bake these cookies at 150°C or 300°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Can I make this recipe sugar-free?

For a sugar-free version, it is best to use a calorie-free brown sugar substitute or a mixture of ¾ erythritol and ¼ brown or coconut sugar. This way the gingerbread cookies will contain a little less calories, but the still have some natural sugar from the dates, apricots and honey.

Save for later

Click the pin button and add the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards. This way you can also easily bookmark the recipe for later. The pin button will appear as soon as you hover over the picture. 

Use the button in the upper left corner to pin this recipe to your Pinterest board.

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I hope you like this recipe and that you give it a try soon. If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at contact@julesbalancedrecipes.com or Instagram(@julesbalancedrecipes). 

In case, you’ve tried this recipe, I’d appreciate your comment and rating for this recipe. It’s easy to do and it would mean the world to me.

And if you loved this recipe, you may also like some of my other delicious (but also healthy) holiday season treats! 

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Jules

German Gingerbread Cookies

Julia Schmitt
Soft and moist German gingerbread cookies made completely without flour, candied orange and lemon peel. Instead this recipe is made with dates, dried apricots and ground nuts. But they taste as least as good as the original ones which is why they are a must try for the the holiday season.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
cooling time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course pastries
Cuisine german
Servings 13 cookies
Calories 250 kcal

Equipment

  • food processor with a whisk attachment  or a hand mixer with beaters
  • mixing bowl
  • baking tray and parchment paper

Ingredients
  

Gingerbread Cookie Dough

  • 100 g Medjool dates (3.5 oz or 5 dates)
  • 100 g dried apricots (3.5 oz)
  • 3 medium-sized eggs
  • 80 g brown sugar *
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 organic lemon (zest only)
  • 1 organic orange (zest only)
  • 125 g ground almonds (4.4 oz or 1 heaped cup)
  • 125 g ground hazelnuts (4.4 oz or 1 heaped cup)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • tsp gingerbread spice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 13 gingerbread wafers 70 mm diameter or 2.7 inches

For the Chocolate Gaze

  • 150 g dark chocolate (5.3 oz)

For the Icing

  • 150 g powdered sugar or calorie-free powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2-4 tsp water

Instructions
 

Gingerbread Cookie Dough

  • Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Stone and finely dice dates and apricots.
  • In a bowl, add the eggs, sugar and honey and beat for four to five minutes until forty. Next add the lemon and orange zest.
  • Now, add the ground nuts and spices and gently fold them in with a spatula. Finally, gently fold in the chopped dates and apricots.
  • Lay out the wafers on your baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spread 60 grams of gingerbread dough (which is equal to the amount of 1 big icecream scoop) on each wafer and flatten it slightly with wet fingers. Bake the gingerbread for 20 to 25 minutes, then allow to cool.

Chocolate Coating

  • Melt 2/3 of the chocolate over water bath or in your microwave, then stir in the remaining chocolate and let it melt. Evenly spread the chocolate over your cooled gingerbread cookies with silicone brush and let chocolate harden.

Icing

  • In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar with lemon juice and water until you have a very viscous sugar paste. Then spread it evenly over your half cooled, lukewarm cookies.

Notes

Tip: Gingerbread cookies keep best in the refrigerator.
*If you want to make your cookies a little healthier and sugar-free, either replace the brown sugar one-for-one with a calorie-free brown sugar of choice or use a mixture of 60 grams of erythritol or xylitol and 20 grams of brown sugar or coconut blossom sugar.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 250kcalCarbohydrates: 21.7gProtein: 6.2gFat: 14.9gSaturated Fat: 1.1gFiber: 3.4gSugar: 19.4g
Keyword christmas, cookies recipe, gluten-free, holiday
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